as we are reaching a certain age, we decided to make a list of places that we have always wanted to visit – the italian lakes being one of them and aim to visit at least one per year; we always like to use Kirker travel to arrange our city jaunts – they make travelling a pleasure – organising your flight, the pick up to and from the airport, choosing a quality hotel that is trusted – it takes the stress out of organising your own itinerary. don’t you find booking flights such a nightmare – wondering whether you have clicked the right buttons, got the right day….
so here we are at the grand hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como – a splendid hotel, built in 1910 with that old school glamour and elegance that you only see in Agatha Christie dramas. its a lot bigger than the usual hotels that we choose, but its comfortable and luxurious without being supermodern and identikit, nor bland and not too glitzy. the advantage of a bigger hotel are the numerous lounging areas on offer, the generous terraces overlooking the lake, the garden restaurant and pool set in lush italian landscaped gardens, and the bonus of a swimming pool in the actual lake – its the ultimate hotel for indulging and relaxing in. there is also a wellness spa, which has steam, indoor heated pool and gym, all complimentary to residents and is again luxurious. of course, the italian lakes are not cheap – but compared to say a luxury london hotel it offers a lot more. we didn’t book a lake view, but one of the bonuses of booking with Kirker is that you nearly always seem to get upgraded and our room has an incredible lake view.
Tremezzo is a little village with numerous cafes and restaurants along the front; we ate in la Darsena, with terraces overlooking the lake – another tip, get the hotel to book and again you seem to get the best table and view in the house. it was london prices, but decent food – italian with a japanese twist – definitely a fashion in food everywhere. incidentally you could stay above the restaurant in rooms with lake view.
Bellagio is just 10 mins away by ferry, an ancient town with cobbled streets – be warned all the towns are very steep as they are built into the alps, so sensible shoes are a must. Bellagio is said to be one of the prettiest old towns on como, but its quite tourist driven, lots of shopping all selling leather and silk scarves and lots of ice cream parlours. of course the italians do ice cream well, but it was definitely too crowded and the opposite to the sleepy town of Tremezzo. Robert did find some comfy moccasin shoes though…. the ferry ride across was the highlight of the trip, with amazing views of the mountains and lake. there is also a wonderful atmospheric bar near the front, under one of the colonnades – bar Rossi with its old rosewood fittings.
Rain is another characteristic of the lakes – we arrived in basking heat, only to find the next couple of days filled with terrenchial rain and thunder; always the optimistic, we ventured to the nearby town of Como, 35 mins by fast ferry. Como is a bigger port, with an old town and old cathedral built from 14C; its definitely more design led, with some interesting shops – we particularly liked Dep design store and just next door, la Castagna – lifestyle led, there were rooms of inspiring design ideas. we ate lunch at la Colombetta, which was calm and not too touristy. fortunately the rain showers stopped enough to allow a bit of strolling through the old windy streets and take an ice cream at the wonderful Guidi Gelateria in via Domenico Fontana.
Lenno is the next village to Tremezzo and is in a pretty bay, and has the famous villa Barbianello, which was used in the Bond film, Casino; on tuesdays is the weekly local market selling fruit, bags and household stuff. sadly the rain was so heavy that we didnt make it to the villa, – its a short walk from the village through the woods – you join a tour of the inside, or you can just visit the gardens. however we did manage a tasty lunch at Trattoria santo Stefano. usually we don’t let the rain stop us, but we hadn’t banked on the temperature dropping 10 C and being wet and cold is no fun.
its definitely a peaceful and beautiful place to visit – a lot of people seemed to pass through from village to village – sometimes its nice to stay in just one place and simply relax. this was actually robert’s birthday present and from what we gathered most people there were either on honeymoon, celebrating an anniversary or a birthday – its definitely a special place for a special occasion.